Pinche Quincho

Life experience has shown me that of the five senses only four really actually matter (sorry touch). Of course this is coming from someone whose sense of touch is more developed than the others. When it comes to sight, smell, hearing, and taste my senses are good enough to get me by. I can distinguish minute subtleties in color, which is handy as an art historian; but my near-sightedness, even with corrective lenses, makes distances foggy. My hearing is equally hit or miss. For me, most of  the world is white noise. Or at least I can make it into white noise. Ticking clocks, humming, squeaking, doesn’t bother me. The only noise that keeps me up at night is cumbia so loud it invades your tired body, takes hold, and doesn’t surrender. This is what happened to me Friday night.I’ve lived my adult life in apartment buildings, usually in dense urban areas. I embrace these locales and their lovely night noises, which actually soothe me to sleep. But I have never had to deal with the hell of living beneath a quincho, an event space with a grill and table/chairs that apartment residents can reserve for parties.


New buildings have their quinchos on the top floor, ostensibly because of the view (see above) but actually to make the dwellers below them suffer. I live on the 32nd floor, beneath an all-roof quincho.

In our building one can use one of the three quinchos until 11pm on weekdays and until 2am on weekends. However these times are usually not respected; apparently there’s a 30-45 minute window for “cleaning up.” Though Chileans love rules, they love avoiding confrontation more. So I end up calling the conserjes (front desk folk) three times before something actually happens and the noisy offenders upstairs leave.

I’m baffled by why people party here in the winter. Friday night the temperature was well below 40° F. And then there’s the music. There’s nothing worse than being forced to listen to 45-second clips of songs that I assume people like to dance to. Most Fridays I can fall asleep with the aid of two pillows on my head and some ear plugs. But the other night was too much. With the cumbia shaking me to the core and people dragging/scraping furniture endlessly across the tile, I called the concierges downstairs three times once the 2am curfew came. By 3am I called the police. Or at least I tried. They put me on hold with Musak, which I normally enjoy but this morning it just made me angrier and concerned since there’s nothing less assuring than an emergency number that defaults to elevator music.

Next week there will no doubt be another party. Another sleepless night. I’m hardly the first person to write about this topic: my beloved Apartment Therapy has dedicated several posts. Unfortunately these tips don’t apply to quinchos. Insulation is not an option since it mostly doesn’t exist in Chile. And complaining doesn’t work either since the concierges are gutless and the police don’t pick up. What I need is a  noise-cancelling cocoon to sleep in. Or at least the hunting earmuffs I wore the first time I went to a NASCAR race in Dallas. 81G-OpPY8DL._SL1500_

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